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See Monica's little black Box !!!

Discussion in 'Home Cinema & Hi-Fi' started by 9designs2, 11 May 2006.

  1. 9designs2

    Mobster

    Joined: 5 Jan 2003

    Posts: 3,418

    Location: Somewhere in the middle

    Well the Non Over Sampling Monica 2 DAC arrived on Monday, got it housed and wired up during the week, and this evening I gave her the kiss of life !! :D

    It's still a little work in progress, and at present hooked up to my PC trying to get a few running in hours done.

    It came with a Wall-wart switch mode power supply, which I plan to disassemble and fit into the free space in the box. Then allowing different mains cables to be used.

    I've not "listen" to it yet..... to late, :rolleyes: But from a very low volume seems to be clear, detailed and open/lean.

    Will see what she can do for me at the weekend .......

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. DRZ

    Soldato

    Joined: 2 Jun 2003

    Posts: 6,837

    Location: In the top 1%

    Get a heatsink on that little LM317 if you can - they are only cheap :)

    Suprised to see it comes with such rubbish capacitors too, they look to me to be very low tolerance caps, which is never good when you have R/C circuits!!!!!

    It is also interesting to see they went for "normal" resistors - surface mount are usually the resistors of choice because they minimise track length.

    What is the model number of the SP/DIF decoder chip? (not the DAC, which I guess is a TDA1543?)

    EDIT: Are they 5% resistors :o (try not overexposing them next time and I might be able to tell! T* glass but a n00b with a flash it would seem :p)
     
    Last edited: 11 May 2006
  3. 9designs2

    Mobster

    Joined: 5 Jan 2003

    Posts: 3,418

    Location: Somewhere in the middle

    Hahaha I said it was work in prog !!! :p
    Was expecting Surface mount board...they do for their T-amp I think
    Lid is on now so can't see chip, (other than 1545A, I don't know)
    Some of the caps are "Black gate" which I thought were the "best" perhaps only on the audio side ??? not the psu ???

    Err it was a Nikon Coolpix 4300 with built in flash !!! Couldn't be a*** to get the D70 out !!
    I'll do a board close up later.....just for you m8 ;)
    Going to leave it running over night ...........
     
  4. tom_nieto

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 11,050

    Location: Birmingham

    Stop tempting me with these fancy things! Could I be cheeky and ask how much you expect the entire project is going to cost? I'm interested in overhauling my computer and sound setup, probably going the stereo route. It'd be excellent to have a nice little DAC like that running from my computer. Also, do you think it would be easy to connect another input? Also, does the DAC need a 75ohm BNC or is that for your convenience?
     
  5. 9designs2

    Mobster

    Joined: 5 Jan 2003

    Posts: 3,418

    Location: Somewhere in the middle

    I think the final cost will be around £125 -135, including the shipping etc.
    Performance if you believe the Net could be up to 2K worth !!!

    I used BNC, because my Transport/Player does, and I had lead !!!! Plus I think it makes a nice connection
    Can't seen any reason why you couldn't added extra inputs and a selector switch.

    It's currently being fed by my PC, from Windows Media Player, and a list of MP3 files on repeat !!! Should have about 30 - 40 hours on it when I come to "listen" to it !
     
  6. tom_nieto

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 11,050

    Location: Birmingham

    These N.O.S. dacs sound amazing. I suppose it all depends on how much cash I can amass over the next few weeks. It would be really cool to make a DAC/Preamp sort of like the cyrus DAC XP, but I lack the expertise to do this I think.
     
  7. Mr_Sukebe

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 23 Dec 2002

    Posts: 9,149

    Location: London

    Looks interesting, nice one. Keep us posted on the outcome once you start dem'ing it.
    Would be interesting to drop in with my 1543 version and the new BC DAC to do a comparison.
     
  8. mctrials23

    Hitman

    Joined: 6 Jan 2005

    Posts: 722

    Location: colchester,essex

    yeah deffo please keep us updated as im just about to get myself a charlize and maybe one of those to go with my B&W 601's.

    Would love to find out what you think of the monica.
     
  9. 9designs2

    Mobster

    Joined: 5 Jan 2003

    Posts: 3,418

    Location: Somewhere in the middle

    Some first impressions:-
    Monica had a little over 24 hours constant burn in on the PC, so last night took her upstairs for a session ;) ……. Warmed the system up with a bit of Jamie Cullum … For ref the system is a Linn based (you never guessed ;) Karik II CDP, Knekt Room receiver as a pre-amp, 3xKlout power amps, with Active Kabers.
    .
    Much is said and written about the house sound of various brands, though I largely agree I can’t say I feel the Linn sound is strongly focused in any direction, being reasonable neutral to dry, certainly for the electronics, speakers can maybe more of acquired taste. Some on the Net claim Monica adds a vinyl or analogue sound to CD, may be, but then so does the Bit Stream Delta Sigma DAC in a Karik, it’s was the only CDP I could find to sit next to my LP12 for over a decade !!!

    Switching to Monica was not a dramatic change, the balance and presentation sat along side the Karik very well. Delivering up a smooth weighty even sound, that was quite easy to sit back and listen to. Wasn’t made to feel like I needed to jump from my chair and change anything.

    Moved on to a Peter Cincote album, this has some more up-tempo and bite to some tracks with some great (grand ?) piano work. Now the two DACs started to show, Monica had it’s even handed presentation, nice detail, open sound, with some nice depth, placing the vocal within that depth. Moved to the Karik and the vocal comes forward and more immediate and intimate, losing a little depth reward. Detail about the same, but now as the piano is played with various degrees of enthusiasm, and the pace and tension is raised the Karik went with it, giving more scale and presence to the sound, conveying the drama that was meant to be created. Monica tended to sit on the sound, levelling it off. Like it was running out of steam, and couldn’t quite keep up.

    Moved on to a current favourite of mine, Jack Johnson, I have the first 3 albums, and would say the recording on these, Brushfire in particular is some of the best I’ve heard, I think someone forgot to switch the dynamic limiter/compressor on ! Which is used in just about every recording these days :mad:
    These albums have awesome bass guitar or double bass, the Karik can and does get a little muddy and out of focus down the bottom end (an area where the Unidisk spanks it) and here Monica made a slightly better job. Slightly less rich and with a bit more openness and cleaner detail, not huge, but every bit helps in my small room, as it doesn’t work well with overblown loose bottom ends….tighter the better I say hey Monica !

    So far I’d say not a clear winner, a bit album specific. Next stage is to build the switch mode power supply in to the box, so I can direct couple it, and then use a Russ Andrews yello power lead. Not sure how long the run in period is, but with a bit more detail work and few more hours hopefully I can ease a little more out of Monica…..
    So a 1992 £1400 CD Player against a 2006 DIY DAC for £125…… more later.

    Update:-
    It rained so couldn't cut the grass :D Hence had chance for few more tweaks, now with SMPS inside Monica's little black box.

    [​IMG]

    And just for DRZ a link to a hi res close up (1Mb) Closeup

    She's back on the PC getting a few more hours, I'll listen again this evening.....
     
    Last edited: 13 May 2006
  10. 9designs2

    Mobster

    Joined: 5 Jan 2003

    Posts: 3,418

    Location: Somewhere in the middle

    50+ Hour update:-

    More running and listen done, in her "integrated" form.....
    Sound has improved, I would say the bottom end has gained a little more body, perhaps loosing some of the early leanness :(
    Dynamic contrast and "swing" is a little better, but still seems to hold back slightly compared to the Karik. Top end is smoother and creamy, no real sign of spit or "ssss" would be great at taming metal dome tweeters :D

    Did briefly hooker her up to the Unidisk, fairly quiet listen as it was late, helped me realise why the Uni is so dam **** expensive, total beguiling :eek:
    Monica was like listen from another room !!!

    Well she goes on tour over the next few weeks, around the office, will meet an Audiolab 8000 CDP, a Linn Genki, Arcam 192 and maybe the brand new Rega CDP which I think will be the hardest away game..... :D

    Mr_S think we will have to arrange something ;)
     
  11. Mr_Sukebe

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 23 Dec 2002

    Posts: 9,149

    Location: London

    Nice update. I've seen the comments also on the ZG forum. Zanash can probably help with internal cabling for not much dosh. He's an enthusiast, not out to make a milllion bucks.

    My Meridian 203 has now been sold, so I'll be down to the BC and N.O.S shortly. Would be good to catch up sometime. Drop me an email and we should organise a get together in July (I'm VERY busy in June).
     
  12. btph

    Gangster

    Joined: 10 Feb 2004

    Posts: 198

    right 1st of i'll admit i'm not an expert in these things, so sorry if i'm talking out of my backside, but......the 1st improvement i would make to this is reduce the signal cable lenghts. there must be (difficult to judge from photo) a good couple of inches that could be cut out from the 3 twisted pair sets.

    looking at your setup etc i'm sure you digial feed and interconnects cost a fair few bob, shame to waste it by connecting to loops of poor quality cable in the DAC.

    good luck with the improvements/testing. love reading the thread. makes me want to build one!!
     
    Last edited: 16 May 2006